The Church's Year
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT
On this day the Church not
only makes mention in the office of the priest, but also in the
Mass, of the two different Advents of Christ, that by His first
gracious advent may be gladdened, and by His last terrible coming at
the day of judgment we may be impressed with salutary fear. With
this intention she cries out at the Introit:
INTROIT People of Sion, behold the Lord
shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of
his voice to be heard in the joy of your heart (Is. 30:30). Give
ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a
sheep (Ps. 79). Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to
prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son: that through His advent
we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds; who livest and
reignest with God the Father, in union with the Holy Ghost, God for
ever and ever. Amen.
EPISTLE (Rom. 15:4‑13). Brethren, what
things soever were written, were written for our learning, that
through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have
hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one
mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one
mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also
hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus
was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm
the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to
glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I
confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy
name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And
again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and magnify him, all ye
people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and
he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles
shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in
believing, that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy
does St. Paul teach in this epistle?
The Jews and Gentiles who had
been converted to the Christian faith were disputing among
themselves at Rome, in regard to abstinence and the use of certain
kinds of food, reproaching each other severely; the Jews boasted
that the Savior, according to promise, was born of their nation,
thus claiming Him from the Gentiles, who, in their turn, reproached
the Jews for their ingratitude in having crucified Him. To restore
harmony St. Paul shows that each had reason, the Jews and Gentiles
alike, to praise God, to whose grace and goodness they owed all;
that each had in Him a Redeemer in whom they could hope for
salvation; and he warns them not to deprive themselves of that hope
by contentions. By these words the Apostle also teaches that we too,
have great reason to praise God, and to thank Him for calling us,
whose forefathers were heathens, to the Christian faith, and to
guard against losing our salvation by pride, envy, impurity,
should we read the Scriptures?
That we may know what we are
to believe, and do in order to be saved, as all Scripture inspired
by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct
in justice (11 Tim. 3:16); that we may learn from what Christ has
done for us, and the saints for Christ, to be patient in our
sufferings, and to be consoled and encouraged by their example. To
derive this benefit from the Scriptures, the Catholic must read them
by the light of that Spirit through whose assistance they came into
existence, who lives and remains for ever with the Church: that is,
the light of the Holy Ghost must be sought, that their meaning may
read according to the sense
of the Church and not be explained according to the reader's
judgment. For he who reads the holy Scriptures by the light of his
own private judgment, must, as experience shows, of necessity
diverge from the right path, become entangled in manifold doubts,
and at last, lose the faith entirely. For this reason the Catholic
Church has very properly limited the reading of the Bible, not as
has been falsely asserted, unconditionally forbidden it, but she
allows the reading of those editions only, which are accompanied by
notes and explanations that the unity of faith may not be disturbed,
and that among Catholics there may not be the terrible bewilderment
of the human intellect which has taken place among the different
heretical sects who have even declared murder, bigamy and impurity
to be permissible on the authority of the Bible. We are to consider
also, that Christ never commanded the Bible to be written or read,
and that not the readers but the hearers and the followers of the
word of God by which is meant those who hear the word of God in
sermons, and keep it, will be saved!
Further instruction in regard
to the doctrine of faith on this subject will be found in the
"Instruction for Easter Tuesday."
God called a God of patience, of consolation, and of
He is called a God of
patience because He awaits our repentance, of consolation, because
He gives us grace to be patient in crosses and afflictions, and so
consoles us inwardly, that we become not faint‑hearted; of hope,
because He gives us the virtue of hope, and because He desires to be
Himself the reward we are to expect after this life.
ASPIRATION O God of patience, of
consolation and of hope, fill Our hearts with peace and joy, and
grant that we may become perfect in all good, and by faith, hope and
charity, attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL (Mt. 11:2‑10). At that
time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two
of his disciples, he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or
do we look for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go
and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the
lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise
again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he
that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way,
Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you
out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what
went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they
that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But
what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a
prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my
Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before
was John in prison?
He was in prison, and lost
his life, because he had rebuked king Herod for his adulterous
marriage with his brother's wife (Mt. 14:310). Truth, as the proverb
says, is certainly a very beautiful mother, but she usually bears a
very ugly daughter: Hatred. St. John experienced that speaking the
truth very often arouses hatred and enmity against the speaker. Let
us learn from him to speak the truth always, when duty requires it,
even if it brings upon us the greatest misfortunes, for, if with St.
John we patiently bear persecution, with St. John we shall become
martyrs for truth.
did St. John send his disciples to Christ?
That they should learn from
Christ, who had become illustrious by His teachings and miracles,
that He was really the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world,
whom they should follow.
did Christ say to the disciples of St. John:
"Go and say to John, the blind see, the lame walk,
That they should, by His
miracles, judge Him to be the Messiah because the prophets had
predicted that He would work such miracles (Is. 35:5‑6). "Christ,"
says St. Cyril, "proved that He was the Messiah by the grandeur as
well as by the number of His miracles."
does Christ add: "And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in
Christ used these words in
reference to those who would be scandalized by His poverty, humility
and ignominious death on the cross, and who for these reasons would
doubt and despise Him, and cast Him away; though "man," as St.
Gregory says, "owes all the more love to the Lord, his God, the more
humiliations He has borne for him."
was our Lord's object in the questions He asked concerning St.
His object was to remove from
St. John all suspicion of failing in faith in Him; and to praise the
perseverance with which, although imprisoned and threatened with
death, he continued to fill his office of preacher, thus
constituting him an example to all preachers, confessors and
superiors, that they may never be deterred by human respect, or
fear of man, or other
temporal considerations, from courageously fulfilling their duties.
Our Lord commended also rigorous penance, exhibited by St. John's
coarse garments and simple food, that we may learn, from his
example, penance and mortification.
does Christ say that John was "more than a
Because St. John was foretold
by the prophet Malachias as was no other prophet; because of all the
prophets he was the only one who with his own eyes saw Christ and
could point Him out, and was the one to baptize Him: and because
like an angel, a messenger of God, he announced the coming of the
Savior, and prepared the way for the Lord.
did St. John prepare the way for the Savior?
By his sermons on penance,
and by his own penitential life He endeavored to move the hearts of
the Jews, that by amending their lives, they might prepare to
receive the grace of the Messiah, for God will not come with His
grace into our hearts if we do not prepare His way by true
Lord Jesus, by the praise Thou didst accord to Thy forerunner St.
John, for his firmness and austerities, inflame our hearts with love
to imitate his steadfastness and penance, that we may never do
anything to please man which may be displeasing to Thee; grant us
also Thy grace that we too, like St. John, may have those who are
confided to our care, instructed in the Christian
"The God of patience and
of comfort, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in
believing" (Rom. 15:5,13).
gives us the greatest consolation in adversities?
The strong and fervent belief
that each and every thing that happens to us, comes to us for our
own good from God, and that whatever evil befalls us, is by the will
or permission of God. Good things and evil, life and death, poverty
and riches, are from God (Ecclus. 11:14). If we have received good
things at the hand of God (Job 2:10), saith the pious job in his
affliction, "why should we not receive evil?"
We should be fully convinced
that without the permission of God not a single hair of our head
shall perish (Lk. 21:18), much less can any other evil be done to us
by man or devil (Job 1); we should have a steadfast confidence that
if we ask Him, God can and will assist us in our sufferings, if it
be for our salvation. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to
have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will
not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands (Is.
49:15‑16); we should hope for abundant reward in the future life,
which we will merit by patience in our sufferings, for that which is
at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us
above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17);
we should remember that all complaints and murmurs against the
dispensation of God are useless, and lead only to harm and shame;
Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace? (Job 9:4) we should have
a vivid remembrance of our sins, for which we have long since
deserved the eternal punishments of hell - hence the well-known
saying of St. Augustine: O Lord, here cut, here burn, but spare me
in eternity. No other way leads to the kingdom of heaven than the
way of the cross, which Christ Himself, His sorrowing mother, and
all the saints had to tread. Ought not Christ to have suffered these
things, and so to enter into His glory? (Lk. 24:26) Through many
tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21). And
we should not forget that sorrows and adversities are signs of God's
love, and manifest proofs of being His chosen ones. Whom the Lord
loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth
(Heb. 12:6. compare 7-11).
PRAYER IN SORROW O almighty, kind and
merciful God! who hast said: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I
will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Ps. 49:15), behold
relying upon Thy word, I take refuge in Thee in my trouble. Give
honor to Thy name, therefore, and deliver me, if it be pleasing to
Thee and beneficial for me, that all may know, Thou art our only